This was my 2019 new years resolution. I was on fire and held to it for six months! It wasn't until summer hit that my meal planing fell apart.
What you may not know, or perhaps missed along the way is that I am a professionally trained and certified chef. I completed my apprenticeship at one of Canada's top 10 restaurants (as declared by enRoute Magazine) in Saskatoon, SK when I was 20 years old while attending the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in Calgary, AB for the theory and classroom aspects of the certification. I called Food & Beverage my career for 15 years, moving very quickly into leadership and management roles as an Executive Chef and eventually partner and even owner of my own restaurants.
So, cooking comes easy and naturally to me. But that doesn't mean I WANT to do all the cooking every day - especially the long and frustrating ones. Unless you're a stay-at-home parent in the thick of things like me, I'm not sure you can fully understand. Ordering pizza is so much easier - especially when it's virtually a guarantee that your kids will eat it. Do you know how many hours of work I've invested into cooking meals that have gone uneaten?!?
I know all too well the ways to save money when it comes to menu planning, food prep and grocery shopping. But again, that doesn't mean I'm doing it all the time. I don't know what your budget looks like, but for us, food/groceries is the biggest line in the budget. 25% of our total annual budget goes to groceries. In 2018 that was $16,077. Then last year I made meal planning and (food/groceries) expenditure reduction my new years resolution and even though I didn't make it to the the end of the year with that goal, I still managed to reduce our spending by 7% and only spent $14,844 on food and groceries in 2019. I think I can trim that total even more in 2020.
Not only does it save money, but its more relaxing knowing you have a plan in place and don't have to stress about "what's for dinner". Also, for those who meal plan, generally they eat healthier too. Not always, but most often. See, in a panic and disorganized state, we reach for what is most convenient, which most often is the least healthy.
Last year I discovered some wonderful things that helped me along the way, mainly Superstore's Click & Collect (now called PC Express). We began saving hundreds of dollars every month and I was amazed at how tangible all the benefits were. There were no more impulse purchases or falling for eye catching marketing. Being a chef, I have this innate desire to try everything once - so whenever a company launches a "new" product or flavour, I fall for it. But with PC Express I didn't see all the feature products like I would have had I walked into the store. But then summer hit and our schedule changed and I could never find the rhythm again.
This year I want to begin again. Well, I never really quit... I just lost focus in the last half of 2019 and things got away on me. One of my goals within this goal is to write a blog about summertime meal planning. I think a lot of people lose focus in the summer because it is such a carefree season of the year. So, I want to keep myself on point this year and possibly help you and others by publishing a 282 meal plan for summer.
But until then its time to start by clearing out the fridge, freezer and pantry of all the leftovers from the holiday season. Contact me if you need meal ideas or inspiration for your menu planning.